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October 10, 2015

TBS loves Engvall

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 11th 2008 3:00PM
Bill Engvall ShowWhere are the family comedies these days? They're a rare commodity on the big three plus Fox, and even if you include the animated clans on The Family Guy and The Simpsons and American Dad, you can count the family-type comedy shows on one hand.

However, TBS has a throwback family comedy, one in The Cosby Show mode, and they're sticking with it. TBS's The Bill Engvall Show has just been given a third season renewal. The sitcom will be back in the summer 2009 with ten new episodes.

I've watched The Bill Engvall Show and enjoyed it. It's meant to evoke Cosby, but I also found a lot of Everybody Loves Raymond and Home Improvement in it as well, and that's a good thing. Engvall's a funny guy, and he's greatly aided in the show by sitcom vet Nancy Travis as his smart, attractive spouse.

The non-cable networks would be wise to look at the success of a show like The Bill Engvall Show and imitate its success. They should reconsider their fascination with sitcoms that are essentially anti-nuclear family. You have lots of singles, lots of divorced parents, very few traditional families.

I'm not suggesting that there's anything wrong with The Office or Two and a Half Men or Samantha Who? -- I like every one of those shows and watch them faithfully. But I am suggesting that there's room for more variety in the situation comedy world.

Last night, for instance, Fox presented a revamped (so it said) Til Death and the new Jerry O'Connell comedy, Do Not Disturb. It was one of the lamest hours of comedy I've seen on TV in a long time. I know Jason saw some promise in Do Not Disturb; I did not. These shows were not funny.

That said, The Bill Engvall Show -- which depicts a traditional family -- is funny and does work. Fox would've been better off with a show like that than what they presented, but that's just my take.

There were plenty of people who scratched their heads wondering why Everybody Loves Raymond was such a hit. I wasn't one of them. And one of my favorite family comedies -- albeit a very dysfunctional family -- was Arrested Development...which Fox chose to let go. So, go figure.

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With summer reruns pushing us to find alternatives, I finally watched 2 episodes of this show out of sheer laziness and nothing else unique to see. I generally avoid shows with precocious children like the plague. There are exceptions like 2.5 men for example. I was surprised that I did laugh watching Engvall's show. I don't know if it is lowered expectations or what. I have been able to get through one of Engvall's stand up routines even though that "here's your sign" bit runs thin real fast. So I suppose the show has capacity for humor. With shows I actually like beginning to come back this week, it is unlikely I will hunt it up to watch. But if I find it on the schedule when I am bored and lazy, I will probably give it another peek.

September 13 2008 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scott, I agree with you about the invasive advertising but what is the difference between being right in your face with the bottom third of the screen being filled with ads and the networks forcing the writers to blatantly fill the scripts with bogus products, goods or services that have nothing to do with the story? At least the ads you mention will be gone when the series is released on DVD. I'm not a fan of either sort of "subliminal" advertising but come on, someone has to pay the bill so we can watch it in the first place. Remember, TBS is one of those local superstations the cable/satellite companies picks up and rebroadcasts. It's actually a local indy station that has to sell ads and fill up with programming much like the local UHF stations in most local markets - it just happens to be a LOT bigger than most of them are. Regardless, they gotta make a buck too.

As for the show well, I've never hidden my secret love and respect for Nancy Travis very well. She's the perfect wife for Bill and gets just about as many great laughs as he does. I think this show deserves a lot more episodes than it gets and honestly, I'm surprised that TBS doesn't run them into the ground the way TNT does with their programming. I try to catch every episode I can. Call me a redneck if you like but I think Bill & his family are funny as hell. And I LOVE Tim Meadows as his neurotic buddy. Perfect casting if you ask me.

September 11 2008 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael's comment

You are totally right about the written in advertising. It is currently happening to two of my favorite shows and it is all I can do to not turn them off. Eureka & Psych both are doing it and I must say that if I were a writer for these shows I would feel "dirty" having to include the blatant product shots.

But you are right, someone has to pay for it and with the increase in PVRs DVRs & torrents, it is only going to get worse.


September 12 2008 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have not seen an episode of this show and have a personal private boycot going on with it due to the horribly invasive advertising they do during other shows.

Having the little crawl along the bottom of the screen is fine (well, not fine, but I'll live with it) but taking up 2/3 of the screen during a program to pitch your show OR having Bill come out and "pause the show" for a second or two to talk about his own show...that did it for me.

I'm sure it is an entertaining show and like you said, there are not a lot of family sitcoms on these days...but this one lost it for me.

Just my two cents worth.

September 11 2008 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoy Everybody Loves Raymond and other family comedies like Still Standing and even YES DEAR! And I've tried watching Bill Engvall and it just doesn't do anything for me, and I've listened to his stand up and it's extremely tired and lazy. Not even the great Tim Meadows can do much for this show and he's openly admitted that he's on it for a paycheck!

September 11 2008 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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